Those of you who are pretty close to me and/or have been following this blog awhile know that 2009 has not been the kindest year to me. I got sick, my mom got sick and eventually passed away, we were broke all year, I recently was fired from a job I had just started, and I'm still not on my feet yet. So of course I'm really tempted to join in with the many people saying "Good riddance, 2009, get the fuck out of here."
But I find myself unable to say that sincerely. Because two things - two wonderful, interwoven things - have happened this year that have made it all worth it.
One is that I have made more friends this year than I ever have at any other time in my life. I should explain a little about myself here: I am not good at making friends. During my time in school I "made friends" by kind of awkwardly tagging along with people - most of whom didn't seem to want anything to do with me once school let out for the day. After I left, I sought friendship online. I found real friends there, many of whom have still stuck around some 8 years later. But after that, I never made any new, real friends on my own. The friends I made were either friends of friends, or college classmates who I never saw again once our shared class ended. While all of these people are valuable to me, the problem was that I had no confidence in my ability to actually seek out friendship. I still felt like I did in high school, like I was just tagging along with other people's friends.
This year was different. I can't count the friends I made this year, and I'm not going to try. Friendship isn't something to quantify. But what's amazing is the diversity of my circle now - not just of demographics, but of interests. No matter what I want to talk about, there will always be at least one friend I can bring it up with. I didn't have that before. It's a really enriching, exciting experience.
I also feel like I have a safety net. I am not exaggerating when I say that if everything bad that happened this year had happened a year ago, I would not have gotten through it. There's been an incredible outpouring of love and support (both emotional and financial) from all of my friends, but most incredibly from people who were strangers as recently as eight months ago. I can't wrap my head around that, so I'm not even going to try. But I'm really glad for it.
The second major thing that's happened is probably both a cause and a result of the first: I've become way more open to other people's views. I used to carefully guard myself and try not to let in anyone who didn't agree with me on this or that thing. Now, I try to judge people by how they treat other people, not by their political views. Admittedly a lot of this has come from finally "getting my way" politically and realizing it didn't make that much of a difference. I got tired of hating half the country regardless of whether they'd done anything to me, so I decided to be more patient with other people's views. It has really helped me broaden my understanding of the world, live with a lighter heart, and be able to call a much larger group of people my friends.
So while I'll still probably look back on this year as one of my worst, I'll also remember it as one that ultimately made me a better person. And so I think I have a new favorite blessing for ringing in a new year:
May the new year bring you twice as much learning and half as much heartache as the last.